Royals and Superheroes

Trevor Soderstrum

Did you hear that Prince William and Harry were so mad at each other over the Oprah interview they had to have someone sit between them at their grandfather’s funeral? I listened to some newscasters talk rapturously about it for 15 minutes the other day. First off, this is not news.

I doubt there is a family out there, even in the healthiest of families, where some individual has not wanted to carve another family member’s eye out with a melon baller. I have been to a funeral where half the family showed up drunk, one of the sons tried to raise the dead at the cemetery, and a fistfight broke out afterward as “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” played.

It seems the two young men’s wives disagree about who made whom cry. I am sure they both cried. I know tears flow down my face every time I have to reach into my wallet to pay a bill. No one should ever have to witness the torture of a Norwegian having to part with their money.

Trevor Soderstrum

William is also angry at Harry implying that certain members of the royal family might be a tad racist. How could anyone think that a family that exploited and subjugated well over half the world for most of the wealth they enjoy today could possibly have politically incorrect attitudes toward skin color? Old people being racist? Again, this is not news.

Yet, even though we picked up muskets over two centuries ago to throw off royal rule, we are still obsessed with them. I get it. I do. There is something glamorous about kings and queens, jewels, crowns, robes, pretty dresses, and vast estates. Debts, bills, the daily grind, who would not want to escape into the fantasy of a prince riding in on his white steed to whisk you away from all your problems. It is why we love celebrities and the beautiful people. We like to think that somewhere out there is a better world.

It reminds me of the time I met Yvonne Craig a few years back. “You’re Yvonne Craig,” I said. She blinked. Her face registered an expression of surprise that someone recognized her. Although she was older, much thinner, and looked extremely tired, I would know Yvonne Craig anywhere. She might have the right to claim that she is the coolest woman to ever walk this planet. Not only was she “Batgirl”, but dated the Hulk (Bill Bixby), Elvis, and Charles Bronson!She was one of the green girls on Star Trek, and was in a Don Knotts movie. To paraphrase Jerry Mcguire, she had me at Don Knotts.

I remarked that I was disappointed that she was no longer doing public appearances and autograph signing anymore, as I would love to have gotten something signed by her. She laughed it off by remarking that people had grown tired of seeing her tired, old face around. We then had a wonderful conversation that lasted almost an hour. We talked about everything from ballet to Batman, to what it was like to have been in an Elvis movie.

As I was concluding my brush with stardom, I offhandedly mentioned how a friend of mine’s three-year-old daughter was into the Disney princesses, but held out hope that she would eventually love superheroes like I do.

A few days later, I received an envelope. Inside was a handwritten letter for the girl, and the buckle from her Batgirl utility belt. It was a very sweet note to the child encouraging her to dream of being her own superhero, and the story of her life. It was all I could do to not keep the utility belt buckle for myself. Sadly, I did the right thing.

Shortly afterward, Yvonne Craig died. I had no clue she was on the losing end of a battle with cancer when I met her that day. If there is ever a time where a person has the right to be selfish, it is when the last few grains of sand in the hourglass are slipping away. Yet, she took the time to write a note to a little girl, she was never going to meet, to encourage her not to dream of finding a handsome prince, but rather that she should find the superhero inside of her.

Charity is easy. Thinking of those around you is a whole different story. I have no interests in kings and queens or princesses in glass slippers. They are rewarded handsomely for their humanitarian efforts and duties.

All around us are grandparents who take in a grandchild when they should be thinking of their own retirements, single mothers who wear themselves to the bone taking care of a special needs child, teachers that can barely keep the lights on that take what little money they have to buy supplies for their students, and the taking of time to write a note to a little girl. These are the actions of real superheroes. They transform reality with their sacrifice and love. Spoiled princes and princesses, not so much. But, that is not news.